Once again I have to thank Helen Whittle for stepping in and speaking to Jared Harris for us when I was otherwise detained (ie. lying in bed doing the dying fly).
Harris is in the new Hammer Horror film, The Quiet Ones. He plays the mad scientist type, for want of a better fit, an Oxford don driving his students to carry out experiments into the supernatural. He thinks he can explain everything away with (a sort of) reason. What he's forgetting is that he's in a horror film.
Harris has a good deal of fun in the role. Here's what he and Helen had to say about it.
HW: Are you fan of horror flicks?
JH: I don't like graphic horror. I don't like torture porn and stuff like that, I can't watch that. But I like to be scared. It activates that little kid in you which is enjoyable for some reason, but I don't know why I like it (laughs)! It's like going on a rollercoaster ride or something like that. It's supposedly safe and it will end (laughs).
What attracted you to The Quiet Ones?
Well it's a juicy part, you know? I enjoyed the story when I read the script. I was taken by it, by the premise. It's more of sort of psychological suspense horror genre. It achieved what it wanted to achieve through the imagination and through psychology as much as it did by any kind of special effects or anything graphic, which I don't enjoy.
But there were a few scenes that we did that were genuinely quite spooky, like the scene up in the attic, that was a bit spooky because it was actually pitch dark and the only light that was on was on the camera. That was great because you feel some of the experiences that the characters feel. Most of the time you're on set in a room packed full of people who are all sweaty and they haven't been able to laundry for about two weeks.
So you didn't have an existential crisis and think what the fuck am I doing here?
I was thinking 'Is this gonna work?' basically, that's the crisis! The crisis is will anyone see this?! (laughs).
Do you go for things that you think will sell as opposed what might be more interesting for you to play?
It's impossible to tell what will be popular. That is a trillion dollar talent if anyone had it, knowing what the audience is going to want to see two years from now, because it takes at least that long from the moment that you start either re-working a script or start from scratch to make a film to finish and post [production] and then getting it out there is easily a two year journey, if not longer. And it's impossible to know what people will want to see two years from now.
The tension that's at the heart of the business is the people who make movies want to tell the story in a completely original way and in a way that's as unfamiliar to the audience as possible so that they'll catch them by surprise and take them on the journey. The people who sell movies want it to be as familiar experience as possible so that people know what they are going to experience before they buy the ticket. There's always this conflict and when you're involved in making movies you're reliant at the end of the day on the people who sell the movies and you know, you need to be in a hit.
Have you ever been disappointed with the end product?
Of course there's been things that one's been involved in that didn't turn out the way you would have liked but you accept that as part of the bargain. There are so many steps involved in making something and they're all crucial in the contributions that are made to the final thing. You can have a great script but it doesn't work when you shoot it. Or a great script that works works really well when you shoot and then they pick the wrong music, or the editing didn't work. You can have all those things working perfectly and you've got all this great talent together and they bring it out at the wrong time. Someone comes out before you and it impacts what your story is about. There's so many things involved that you can't control. You really have to let go of it once they picture wrap you just let go of it.
What's next for you?
If think if schedule works out I might direct an episode of Mad Men. I'm reading, trying to find something that I'm really passionate about to do next.
So you have the luxury of being able to choose what you do now?
It's the luxury part. It's, you know, I thought I'd wait until I found something that I really, really want to do, something I can sink my teeth into. My nerve will probably run out in, like, June or something and I'll go back to work!
Thanks once more to Helen and Jared. The Quiet Ones is in UK cinemas now and US cinemas from April 15th. Go for the 70s haircuts and fashions, stay for the people wearing them.